Rex Tillerson on Trump: ‘Undisciplined, doesn’t like to read’ and tries to do illegal things reports Aaron Blake (Washington Post/The Fix). Tillerson made those remarks in a sit-down with CBS’s Bob Schieffer.
This post has been updated with Trump’s response, at bottom.
Rex Tillerson came a little bit closer Thursday [Dec. 6th] to saying what he actually thinks of President Trump.
The fired secretary of state, who while in office reportedly called Trump a “moron” (and declined to deny it), expounded on his thoughts on the president in a rare interview with CBS News’s Bob Schieffer in Houston.
It wasn’t difficult to read between the lines. Tillerson said Trump is “pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read” and repeatedly attempted to do illegal things. He didn’t call Trump a “moron,” but he didn’t exactly suggest that Trump was a scholar — or even just a steady leader.
“What was challenging for me coming from the disciplined, highly process-oriented ExxonMobil corporation,” Tillerson said, was “to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.’ ”
That’s the guy whose gut is bigger than his brain. “Challenging” is a sub for “frustrating.,”
Perhaps the most damning quote came when Tillerson talked about how Trump as president regularly attempted to do things that violated the law.
“So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’ ” Tillerson said, according to the Houston Chronicle, “and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.’ ”
Tillerson also appeared to take a shot at Trump’s chief method of communication, Twitter.
“I will be honest with you: It troubles me that the American people seem to want to know so little about issues — that they are satisfied with 128 characters,” Tillerson said.
He was quick to say that that wasn’t meant as a shot at Trump but our political system more broadly. Next to his other comments, though, it wasn’t difficult to see he was lumping Trump with all those Americans who aren’t intellectually curious enough about policy and the actual details of U.S. government.
Update: Trump has responded by calling Tillerson both dumb and lazy.
Donald J. Trump
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!
1:02 PM - Dec 7, 2018
Hence the title of my post.
And here is an addendum from Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) who weighs in with Doing himself no favors, Trump lashes out at ‘dumb’ former cabinet sec:
I don’t doubt that the president found this satisfying. Someone who saw how Trump tries to govern told the public some unflattering truths, so Trump found it necessary to lash out and insult his new critic. He gets hit, he impulsively hits back.
But if the president assumes these little outbursts make him look better, he has this exactly backwards. In fact, Trump’s tweet leads to a fairly obvious follow-up question: if Rex Tillerson is “dumb,” “lazy,” and lacking in “mental capacity,” why exactly did the president make him the secretary of state?
Remember, it was just a few years ago when then-candidate Trump vowed to surround himself “only with the best and most serious people” if elected. It was right around the time he promised via Facebook to “hire the best people.”
Either he’s succeeded on this front or he hasn’t – and according to Trump, there’s a fair amount of evidence for the latter.
I’m not just talking about all of the many, many members of his team who’ve left; I’m thinking more about the members of his team who’ve left, only to face public ridicule and condemnations after their departures.
The Atlantic’s David Frum had a good Twitter thread along these lines this afternoon, highlighting the president’s needlessly acerbic rebukes of all kinds of former allies, from his former attorney general (Jeff Sessions) to his former personal attorney/fixer (Michael Cohen) to his former chief White House strategist (Steve Bannon).
Maybe “the best and most serious people” were too hard to find?